Steve Mitchell, USA Today

Houston Astros Offseason Recap

A recap of the offseason and outlook for the 2017 Houston Astros

After finishing third in the American League West, 11 games behind the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, and missing out on a Wild Card spot by 5 games in 2016, the 2017 Astros have retooled their lineup and look to challenge the American League for a top spot in the playoffs.

It has been a busy off season for General Manager Jeff Luhnow and company. If you have not been keeping up, there will be a few new faces and one extremely familiar face on the 2017 Astros. While bringing in new additions, some fan favorites saw their Major League careers move elsewhere.

Catchers and Pitchers will be reporting to Spring Training on February 15th, below is a comprehensive breakdown of the additions and subtractions the Astros have made this offseason.

(Minor League Transactions excluded)

Who is out?

Luis Valbuena – 3rd baseman Luis Valbuena signed a two-year deal worth $15 million with the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason. A hamstring injury derailed Valbuena’s 2016 campaign with two months remaining in the season. In two seasons with the Astros, Valbuena batted .238 with 38 Home Runs and 96 RBIs.

http://www.scout.com/mlb/astros/story/1747613-a-houston-astros-tribute-t...

Jason Castro – Catcher Jason Castro signed a three-year $24.5 million contract with the Minnesota Twins. After showing signs of steady offensive improvement at the plate in his first three seasons with the Astros, Castro saw his offensive numbers drop drastically the next three seasons. Castro played six seasons for the Astros, batting .232 with 62 Home Runs and 212 RBIs.

Colby Rasmus – Outfielder Colby Rasmus agreed to a one-year $5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. After an exciting 2015 playoff run with the Astros, Rasmus became the first player to ever accept a team’s qualifying offer, a one-year deal worth $15.8 million. This contract left plenty to be desired as he posted a .206 batting average with only 15 Home Runs and 54 RBIs.

Doug Fister – Pitcher Doug Fister is currently a Free Agent. Fister signed a one-year deal worth $7 Million plus incentives with the Astros last off season. Fister finished 2016 with a 4.75 ERA, allowing 24 Home Runs and striking out 115 batters in 180.1 innings.

Who is in?

Nori Aoki – Outfielder Nori Aoki was claimed off waivers by the Astros from the Seattle Mariners. At 35, Aoki played 11 seasons between Japan and the minors. He has only been in the MLB for six seasons but he has made the most of his time. In six big league seasons, Aoki brings the Astros a line of .286/.353/.387.

Charlie Morton – Pitcher Charlie Morton signed a two-year $14 million contract with the Astros. Morton became a free agent after the Philadelphia Phillies declined to pick up his 2017 $9.5 million option. Plagued by injuries during his nine-year career in the National League, including Tommy John surgery (2012), two hip surgeries, and a season-ending hamstring injury in 2016, Morton will look to improve on his career 4.10 ERA while fitting into the back of the Astros rotation.

Josh Reddick – Outfielder Josh Reddick signed a four-year $52 million contract with the Astros. After starting the 2016 season off hot for the Oakland Athletics, Reddick was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he was eventually relegated to being a platoon player while batting .258 in 47 games with only 2 Home Runs. Despite his disappointing run in LA , Reddick still managed to bat .281 with 10 Home Runs and 37 RBIs in 115 games for the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016.

Brian McCann – Catcher Brian McCann was acquired from the New York Yankees in return for RHPs Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. The 12-year veteran, Seven-time All Star, and four-time Silver Slugger comes to the Astros with a career .266 batting average, 18+ Home Runs in each of his last 11 seasons and 888 career RBIs. If he can maintain his numbers, McCann will bring a level of offense to the catching position the Astros have not seen since Jason Castro’s 2013 All-Star campaign.

Carlos Beltran – Designated Hitter Carlos Beltran signed a one-year contract with the Astros worth $16 million. Beltran returns from breaking Astros’ fans hearts in 2004. Beltran was acquired from the Kansas City Royals in the middle of the 2004 season and left to play for the New York Mets after the season came to a close at the hands of Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals.

The heart break everyone felt was equivalent to the feeling of your first love telling you it was over. During one of the most prolific times in Astros history, Beltran made a name for himself in the 2004 playoffs with a Herculean .435 batting average that featured 14 RBIs and 8 homeruns in just 12 games, which included golfing a home run off Julian Tavarez, a swing that should have made Jack Nicklaus proud.

https://twitter.com/awexlerKPRC/status/822252883001405440

Five teams later, the Hall of Fame hopeful brings with him: One Rookie of the Year award, nine All Star appearances, three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger awards, a .281 life-time Batting Average, 421 Home Runs, 1536 RBIs and 19 years of veteran leadership. Astros fans, have had their fun with Beltran for the past 12 years, every time he has stepped foot inside Minute Maid Park he has been met with an outcry of boos; reminding him of when he left them stranded in the cold, in the middle of the night, with plenty of questions, and no answers.

That ends now; he is back and ready to lead this team to the Promised Land. That means no more boos. Well, maybe one more for old times’ sake to welcome him back, but that is it.

Houston Astros 2017 Projected Lineup
1.) George Springer (CF)
2.) Alex Bregman (3B)
3.) Jose Altuve (2B)
4.) Carlos Correa (SS)
5.) Carlos Beltran (DH)
6.) Yulieski Gurriel (1B)
7.) Josh Reddick (RF)
8.) Brian McCann (C)
9.) Nori Aoki (LF)

(Evan Gattis will see plenty of games at Catcher and Designated Hitter to give Beltran/McCann some rest)

Houston Astros 2017 Projected Starting Rotation
1.) Dallas Keuchel
2.) Lance McCullers
3.) Collin McHugh
4.) Mike Fiers
5.) Charlie Morton

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